Match report

Tiverton Town 1 - 0 Leamington

   Saturday 18/09/2010   Southern League Premier Division
Alan Reidy

The inevitable disappointment at bowing out of the FA Cup at the first hurdle for the third time in the past four years was more tangible on the terraces than it was amongst the Tiverton Town playing staff ahead of the match against Leamington at Ladysmead. Five days had passed, the squad was back in training and had put the loss to Paulton Rovers well behind them as they prepared to host the Warwickshire outfit and prepared to get a little revenge following the Brakes completing a league double over Tivvy in their inaugural pair of meetings last season.

Tiverton needed to be prepared and on their best form for Leamington, like any number of sides in the Division, are a perfectly decent team capable of beating anyone if the cards fall favourably. Despite their sluggish start to the season they still resided above Tiverton in the standings, and it was considered imperative in both camps that a victory and the three points they brought were of vital importance as a season of stagnation or struggle might otherwise loom.

The early action – what there was of it (it was not the most thrilling of encounters early on) – saw Tivvy’s Ryan Draper save low down at his near post to deny Craig Wilding and to spare the blushes of Tom Gardner who had been beaten on the outside. And once the Yellows had regained their composure after that ninth minute scare they promptly raced up the other end and carved out a chance of their own. Ian Sampson found space on the right but didn’t like it out there so cut inside before being bundled over, Kevin Hill attempted to hit the top corner with a curling left-footed effort from the free kick that followed, but Jamie Hood quickly extended his neck and diverted the ball over the bar and out for a corner.

The Brakes might have taken the lead when Luke Corbett drove an early shot across the face of goal, and a half chance fell to Adam Faux at the other end, the Tiverton captain nodding Sampson’s free kick harmlessly wide under intense and close scrutiny from the Leamington defenders.

That was just about the sum total of action in a first half that was confined to the midfield for large parts and fortunately confined to the memory bank for no time at all. And after the change of ends there was a change of pace in the game, a change that was instigated by Tiverton and put into action by Leamington as the visitors suddenly found themselves chasing the game, a goal behind and with more urgency required.

The goal itself was beautiful in its simplicity, beautiful in its execution, and to the home supporters beautiful a little more than half an hour later. David Steele clipped in a corner, outswinging, from the right quadrant, The Leamington defence failed to clear their lines sufficiently – one blue-clad body was able only to head the ball more upwards than outwards – and Faux was placed just outside the penalty area in perfect position. One swing of his right leg, one sweet contact, one-nil to Tiverton.

Draper denied Corbett as Leamington were quick to accelerate, and a double substitution by the visitors gave them further impetus, not to mention some blinding pace and quick feet from the introduction of the diminutive Marcus Jackson. And it was he that was the next in line to spurn for Leamington, pulling a low shot wide enough for Draper to stand and watch without fear of a rippling net behind him.

On they pressed and back the Yellows retreated. A series of corners teased the Tivvy defence and forced them into almost begging the referee for a foul against or an offside or a hand ball, anything to help relieve the pressure. Draper tipped one such corner back over the top and behind despite being unceremoniously bumped around in his goal area, the next set piece came into the same area, was headed almost vertically by one of the many heads congested into the close vicinity, the ball bobbled and deflected and bounced under no control from anyone and eventually was forced behind by Jak Martin for another corner, this time on the other side of the pitch.

Tivvy were struggling to move the game up the pitch but the defence was holding firm. What little beat Gardner and Martin was dealt with by Draper, The Fauxs became increasingly prominent as they tucked inside to support, and this in turn forced Sampson and Liam Ellis back from their wide midfield positions. Ellis gave way to Jamie Hatch but the patter remained but Leamington were visibly becoming frustrated with the lack of gilt-edged chances and their style reflected this frustration; the early flowing game had gone and a direct game became the order, a ploy that played neatly into Gardner’s hands as he swept up anything and everything in the air while Martin became More and more prominent with his flawless play on the deck.

Ten minutes to go and Tiverton should have wrapped things up. Hatch played the ball long, as much to relieve pressure as to set up a counter attack, Jamie Densham was onto it, behind Hood but under pressure, and the final shot was weak and wasted and easy for Tony Breeden in the Brakes’ goal to field. And then it was quickly up the other end and up to Corbett to miss twice in quick succession, firstly with a header that was wide enough to not go out of play, and then a low shot that nestled in the side netting.

For Leamington the game was now up. Tiverton shut up shop with Mark Saunders taking Densham’s place and Perry Carpenter making a brief appearance as a replacement for the tireless Sampson who had run so hard and so keenly that he was now tired. There were no more scares, no goalmouth action, no points for Leamington but a much coveted three for Tiverton.

Tiverton Town: Ryan Draper, Adam Faux, Alex Faux, Ian Sampson (Perry Carpenter 86), Jak Martin, Tom Gardner, Kevin Hill, David Steele, Jamie Densham (Mark Saunders 83), Adam Mortimer, Liam Ellis (Jamie Hatch 62)
Goal: Adam Faux 53
Booked: None
Sent off: None

Leamington: Tony Breeden, Scott Lycett, Alex Cowley (Michael Tuohy 73), Lee Downes, Jamie Hood, Liam Daly, Peter Faulds (Marcus Jackson 61), Chris Murphy (James Husband 61), Craig Wilding, Luke Corbett, Richard Batchelor
Booked: None
Sent off: None

Attendance: 309

This report ©2010 Alan Reidy